Tips for the college application process

By Warittha Srichankrad, 17, Wilson HS (Hacienda Heights)
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All my senior friends warned me. They cautioned me about senioritis, college applications and all the other things that would take over my sane, organized life.

I wasn’t too worried about it—until this year, when there were days I felt like I was running around looking for a way out of my mess. Like other seniors, I was stressing late at night typing college essays, racing to the post office and coming to school with very sleepy eyes. Sometimes I found myself wasting time because I couldn’t stand the thought of writing another essay.

Yet here I am, headed for UC Berkeley. The most stressful moments have passed, and honestly, it was really worth the effort.

This year, I realized I was hanging more often in the College Corner asking all sorts of questions. Questions like, "What I should do when my Student Aid Report says that the Social Security Administration does not verify my U.S. citizenship status?" Last year I had just become a citizen. There are schools where you could provide them a copy of your citizenship document, but there are other schools that ask to see the original document (like Berkeley). So I advise you to update your citizenship status as soon as possible to avoid problems. If you were born here, then you’re fine.

Another important fact that I want to stress is to apply to more than three colleges! The selecting process can be arbitrary. Even when you’re confident that you can get into a school, it’s never 100 percent sure whether everything will work out. You should have a couple of back-up schools (I applied to nine schools).

Everybody knows that competition to get into college gets intense, but it shouldn’t become your obsession. You should not be intimidated. Your concern is to get that application in on time while keeping up your grades and extracurriculars, and writing a very good personal statement. I truly believe that the personal statement plays a big part in getting selected. So use your junior summer wisely to prepare your statements. And if you’re applying to schools that require a portfolio, please don’t procrastinate!

One last thing to remember: don’t stress out so much that you get white hair. Senior year is a toughie, but I swear that you’ll survive it if you organize everything in advance.

Thoughts from the senior class of Wilson HS in Hacienda Heights

"For the incoming seniors … just one word for you. Money! Find a summer job, anything. You’ll need it to finance your senior year even if you don’t participate in all the events. Trust me, you’ll find yourself still in need of money. Ditto for the juniors. Get a head start now."
—Phung Tran, 18

"To all incoming seniors: this is your senior yea! Beware of the usuals, like senioritis, and get all college materials done early. Being a senior does not mean you can rest—challenge yourself and be ready for college. Have fun this year too, do all you can in high school. It will be a memorable experience. This is your last year, enjoy it and always cherish your high school years!"
—Jimmy Chan, 18

"All right … make sure you know the difference between ‘POSTMARKED’ and ‘MUST BE IN OFFICE’ deadlines. Other than that submit your college/scholarship apps and be content that you gave it your best."
—Lisa Nhan, 17